What is Customer Experience (CX)?

Customer experience (or CX) refers to a customer’s overall perception of your brand. The goal of good CX is to convey a brand’s values while responding to customers’ demands. Forrester Consulting defines customer experience simply as: “How customers perceive their interactions with your company.”

Customer experience vs. user experience

If customer experience and user experience may seem to be the same thing, each one refers to a different aspect of your visitor’s perception. CX concerns your customers’ relationship with your brand, its values and their purchasing experience. 

Your customer’s whole journey matters in CX, whether it is the navigation through your website, the calls with customer service or after-sales service, even shopping in bricks-and-mortar stores. 

However, UX focuses on the interaction between the user and the product. Providing a comfortable user experience contributes to turning a visitor into a customer. Though both concepts are different, they complement each other since CX results in part from UX.

Why is good CX important?

Every interaction your user has with your company will have an impact on CX. Absolutely every step matters, since if your customer is satisfied with their experience on your website or visiting your shop, they will be more likely to come back. As we know, it’s much easier to keep a customer you already have than to gain a new one.

If you do it right, you should end up creating a virtuous cycle: first time visitors become first time customers, then repeat customers, then hopefully brand ambassadors that will bring even more traffic to your site. 

A few concrete examples of the positive effects of good customer experience include:

  • A loyal customer base
  • Positive reviews
  • A considerable amount of word-of-mouth marketing
  • Reduced churn
  • Higher profits

For instance, the brand Philips noted that when they integrated user-generated content, customer reviews went up. Why is this important to CX? Probably in part because of the power of social proof, they saw that, “Product pages with at least one review experienced a 354% increase in conversion compared to product pages with no reviews, whether or not visitors engaged with the review content.” 

By providing customers with what they clearly wanted – visual content and more reviews – Philips improved their experience, while increasing their own conversions.

A chart showing increase in visual content submitted by Philips clients
Source

Building a customer experience strategy

Before the internet, it was easy – or at least more straightforward – for salespeople to delight their customers. Remembering personal details, being polite and attentive, throwing in a compliment or a complementary cup of coffee…But in the digital age, how can brands show off their ‘customer-centricity’ through their website? Let’s go through a few simple steps.

Step-by-Step customer experience strategy

Understanding your customers

This is the most fundamental question, but one that often gets overlooked. Who are your customers?  Who is the target in your strategy? It is essential that you know who your target audience is and what their habits are. 

With this in mind, segment your customers and create customer profiles (also called personas). Paint your persona’s portrait with all the details that matter for your strategy like their age, gender, marital status and so on… Think of these personas like real customers, give them a name, a personality, a life.

Building a customer journey map

A good CX strategy starts with putting yourself in your customers’ shoes, which means building a customer journey map. A customer journey is the start-to-finish interaction customers have with your brand before reaching a specific goal. A better understanding of your customers will enable you to improve customer experience as much as possible.

As we know, consumer habits are ever-changing. A customer journey map is a way of staying customer-centric as you keep identifying users’ new expectations and frustration points. We listed all the steps you need to follow to create your customer journey map in How To Build A Customer Journey Map.

Collecting competitive insights

Nothing wrong with looking if the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Competitor research can help you understand the things you are doing wrong or the type of CX delivered by your competitors. It is a savvy way to ramp up. There are a lot of methods to collect competitive insights.

Check our list of top digital marketing tools, lots of them will be useful to collect competitive insights for your customer experience strategy.

Making customer service a priority

Customer experience vs. customer service? Both notions look similar, but they are not quite the same. Consider customer service as part of customer experience. Customer service relies on your employees, and how well and quickly they respond to customer issues. 

Improving UX and purchase convenience

Don’t forget that UX is a fundamental part of customer experience. No users will complete a transaction on your website if the purchase funnel is long and uncomfortable. Think about: 

  • Optimizing visual aspects (like fonts, buttons and images)
  • Guaranteeing fast load time
  • Optimizing your search bar 
  • Making sure your product sorting is accurate (sorted out by new, promotions and relevant categories)
  • Guaranteeing a safe and fluid checkout experience 

All these elements will considerably improve your website’s UX and conversion rate while pleasing your users.

Connect emotionally with your audience

Remember, CX is linked with the customer’s perception of your brand. How do they feel about the values it conveys? A good CX will automatically be related to positive emotion and a positive image of your brand. Emotion is important in buying decisions and impacts the overall experience. 

Bond with your clients and they will be grateful for it. In their article about ‘The New Science of Customer Emotions,’ the Harvard Business Review reported that, “fully connected customers are 52% more valuable, on average, than those who are just highly satisfied.”

A chart showing the value of emotional connection to CX
Source

A final step would be to measure your customer experience strategy’s results. But, how? Most common methods rely on indicators like:

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS). This type of survey enables customers to rate their satisfaction using a 0-10 scale. That way, businesses can measure the portion of customers who are more likely to spread positive or negative word-of-mouth.
  • Time to Resolution (TTR). This measures the amount of time the customer service team takes to resolve a request after it has been opened.
  • Customer Effort Score (CES). It gauges how much effort a customer has to exert to get a problem resolved (returning a product or getting an answer to a question for instance).
  • CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Score). This is a basic measurement of customer satisfaction thanks to a survey where customers can rate their experience with the brand.
    More and more online shops are resorting to these satisfaction indicators to get feedback directly with their clients.

How can you improve customer experience on your site?

Identifying possible problems is a good way to prevent CX frustrations. Conversational marketing company Drift gathered customers’ most common sources of frustration while dealing with a company, shown below.

A chart from Drift showing common CX frustrations
Source

Many of these frustration sources could be avoided very easily. Lots of frustration comes out of situations that are an impediment in your customer’s journey. Always remember, your website shouldn’t feel like an obstacle course.

Think about testing things that could optimize your conversion rate. According to Drift’s research, difficult navigation and useless search functions are a source of frustration for 32.9% of users. Is there a way to simplify navigation, or make search more seamless?

Conclusion

Customer experience is a broad term that encompasses UX, customer service and pretty much all interactions your customers have with your brand. Several metrics are often used to measure it, and it’s essential to creating brand loyalty and strong revenue. Focusing on any points of friction on your site or during the customer journey, and then using experimentation to remove the obstacle, can help improve CX. 

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